Midi et Demi (Half past Noon)

Dorothea Tanning

Midi et Demi (Half past Noon)


Dorothea Tanning (1910-2012)




Oil on canvas


51 3/8 x 64 in. (130.4925 x 162.56 cm.)

Accession #:


Credit Line:

Joseph E. Temple Fund


As one of the foremost American practitioners of surrealism, Dorothea Tanning is among the most important and influential women artists of the second half of the twentieth century. Around 1954-55, Tanning made a conscious effort to shift away from surrealism’s realistic depictions of the impossible toward a less formulaic, less legible style. "Half Past Noon" is an example dating from this second stylistic phase of her career, and it is part of the Insomnias series. Composed directly with oil on canvas in an improvised, automatic manner, Insomnias were so called to emphasize a relationship to restlessness, delirium and exhaustion -- and to reference their nocturnal origins Although Tanning was suffering from insomnia at this time, this painting reveals an astonishing inventiveness and sense of risk. It also invokes the surrealist privileging of the unconscious: bodies, animal forms, limbs, gestures of sexual reverie, intimations of violence and eros flutter and ooze in and out of Tanning's psychological landscape.